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Luxury cruise ship averts major disaster

Nearly 500 people winched to safety off Norwegian coast

A cruise liner narrowly averted a disaster over the weekend after becoming stranded in bad weather just off the west coast of Norway. 


Image AP - Svein Ove Ekornesvag/NTB Scanpix


The luxury vessel, Viking Sky, was travelling through an area known for its unpredictable seas and shallow waters on Saturday when it encountered engine problems, The Guardian reported. 


Carrying around 1,373 passengers, including some Australians, the ship then sent out a distress call before coming close to striking land.  


“It was very nearly a disaster. The ship drifted to within 100 metres of running aground before they were able to restart one of the engines,” Joint Rescue Coordination Centre head and police chief Hans Vik told TV2. 


“If they had run aground we would have faced a major disaster.” 


According to the BBC, five helicopters airlifted almost 500 people off the stricken vessel in bad weather, after which time three of the ship’s four engines were restarted for its trip to port. 


Around 500 passengers and crew were still on board the liner when it arrived safely in the port of Molde at 4.30pm (local time) yesterday (Sunday).



“All passengers and crew are safe, and passengers will be flying home starting tonight,” Viking Cruises said in a statement emailed to Traveltalk.


“Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crew. 


“We would like to thank the Norwegian Redningssentral and the Norwegian emergency services for their support and skill displayed in managing the situation in very challenging weather conditions.” 


The next sailing, Scandinavia & the Kiel Canal, which was due to set off on 27 March, has been cancelled, but Viking does not expect any subsequent cancellations. 


Although there are no reports of any serious injuries, 20 people were treated for injuries ranging from broken bones to cuts and bruises, rescuers said. 


Footage uploaded to social media of the incident shows furniture rolling across the floor and even parts of the ceiling falling down as the ship tilts heavily. Waves also broke through doors and windows, causing cold water to pour into parts of the ship.  


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 25 March 2019

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